Patrick Ewing has a memorable 7-foot stature, notable smile and his No. 33 Knicks uniform hangs in the rafters at Madison Square Garden. But all of that, evidently, isn’t enough for the arena employees to recognize the basketball Hall of Famer.
Despite a decorated 15-year career in New York, the Georgetown coach says he’s been repeatedly stopped in the back hallways by Garden security while at the Big East Tournament this week.
“I thought this was my building,” Ewing told reporters after his Hoyas upset top-seeded Villanova in the quarterfinals on Thursday. “And I feel terrible that I’m getting stopped, accosted, asking for passes, everybody in this building should know who the hell I am. I’m getting stopped. I can’t move around this building. I was like, ‘What the hell? Is this Madison Square Garden?’
“I’m going to have to call [Knicks owner James Dolan] and say, ‘Geez, is my number in the rafters or what?’”
The Garden released a statement and Ewing and Dolan did speak and things have been cleared up.
“Jim and Patrick have a long-standing relationship; they spoke this afternoon and reaffirmed that,” MSG said. “We all know, respect and appreciate what he means to The Garden and New York. Good luck to him and his Hoyas in the Big East semi-finals.”
Ewing, the Knicks’ No. 1 overall pick in 1985, spent just two seasons of his NBA career elsewhere, with the Seattle Supersonics and the Orlando Magic. The 11-time All-Star retired in 2002 before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. He is best known for his time in New York.
Now in his fourth season as head coach of the Hoyas, Ewing led his team to the semifinals of the Big East tournament for the first time since 2015. Georgetown has to win the tournament in order to participate in March Madness and the NCAA Tournament.
“We took another step — in my house, by the way. This is my house,” Ewing said, per the Associated Press. “It’s a great win. Huge win. We played against the Cadillac, the Bentley, whatever you want to call them, of the Big East — the class of the Big East. And once upon a time that was us. But we took a huge step to be able to knock them off.”